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More ‘Gold’ for the Golden Years: 5 Reasons for Seniors to Rent Their Vacation Properties

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By Christine Karpinski

RISMEDIA, May 23, 2009-It seemed like a great idea 20 years ago. You’d buy that condo in Florida, vacation there as often as possible, then someday sell your primary residence and spend your “golden years” basking in the sun. But like so many Americans, the nation’s recent economic troubles have given you reservations about taking on too much risk, so your golden years will have to wait. And though you’d hate to sell your beloved getaway, keeping up two homes just won’t be possible on your recessionized budget. Is there a solution?

“Absolutely yes,” says Christine Karpinski, director of Owner Community for HomeAway.com and author of How to Rent Vacation Properties by Owner, 2nd Edition: The Complete Guide to Buy, Manage, Furnish, Rent, Maintain and Advertise Your Vacation Rental Investment. “Renting out your second home will allow you to keep it during these tough times and sets you up with an easy, DIY business that will continue to bring you profits long after the economy has gotten back on its feet.”

Karpinski offers five reasons why you should consider renting out your second home:

1. Your fixed income hasn’t kept up with your lifestyle. Even when you’re happy to give up the daily grind of your job, losing the paycheck that comes with it can be pretty painful. Factor in inflation, rising taxes, a depleted 401K and unexpected “new” expenses, and you may find that what seemed like a manageable cost of living five years ago doesn’t seem that way anymore. Your second home, even if it’s paid for, may start looking like a liability due to property taxes, homeowner’s association dues, and maintenance costs.

2. You’ve decided to “retire” from retirement. It is not unusual for people to test-drive retirement and find that it’s just not for them. Work can provide many rich rewards-structure, social interaction, mental stimulation, a sense of purpose, and so forth-that people keenly miss when they retire. And when they discover that quitting “the rat race” isn’t quite what they thought it would be, more and more people are opting to return to the workplace. And nowadays, people simply can’t afford to quit the working world completely.

3. Circumstances have changed since you made your retirement plans. Maybe grandchildren have arrived on the scene and you can’t bear the thought of moving hundreds of miles away from them. Or your parents are in poor health and need you nearby. Or your spouse has passed away and retiring in the Great Smoky Mountains was his idea, not yours. Regardless of specifics, your life bears no resemblance to what you thought it would look like back when you made your retirement plans.

4. You’ve suddenly realized there’s no place like home. Maybe there are no dramatic life circumstances keeping you from moving to your “dream destination.” Maybe you’ve simply changed your mind. You’ve decided you like being near your friends, you don’t want to leave your church or synagogue, and your Tuesday lunch with “the girls” or Thursday Bridge night with “the guys” is a tradition you just don’t want to give up. Or perhaps you’d like to stay in your hometown most of the year and spend the bitterest winter months in your beachfront condo. Renting your second home out during the time you are not staying there makes it financially feasible to keep both homes.

5. You’re currently renting your second home through a property management company, but you’d like to earn more. Ditching the middleman may be the way to go. Property managers charge a hefty fee for their services. In fact, as Karpinski’s books point out, you have to rent ten more weeks with a management company to end up with the same amount of money you’d make renting by owner. And with the growing popularity of vacation home rental websites like HomeAway.com, finding renters is surprisingly easy.

“Renting out your second home can make for a valuable revenue stream that will not only prop you up now when you need it most, but could also make your golden years even more golden in the long run,” says Karpinski. “And if you’re like most people, you’ll find that not only will you quickly get the hang of renting, it’s actually fun.”

Christine Karpinski is the author of How to Rent Vacation Properties by Owner, 2nd Edition: The Complete Guide to Buy, Manage, Furnish, Rent, Maintain and Advertise Your Vacation Rental Investment and Profit from Your Vacation Home Dream: The Complete Guide to a Savvy Financial and Emotional Investment.

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